The fine folks at the AIP's Statistical Research Center have the latest employment numbers for physics PhD's a year after graduation. First the good news: unemployment is still amazingly low. Only 2% of physics PhD's were unemployed a year after graduation compared to about 9% for the general population in the US over the same time period and over 10% for those ages 25-35. The bottom line is that physics PhD's continue to be extremely employable. Isn't it nice to feel wanted?
Now for the bad news: between 2008 and 2010 the fraction of new PhD's taking potentially permanent positions fell by about 8%. The deficit was made up largely by increases in the availability of post-docs, at least partially due to the stimulus package passed in 2009.
Hopefully, the potentially-permanent jobs will return as the economy improves. Of course that is assuming government deadlock, the national debt, global warming, European fiscal crises, or attacks by Godzilla don't derail our tepid recovery. While physics PhD's aren't immune to the world's economic woes, it does appear that we're faring better than most.